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T20 World Cup 2021

India’s batting is under scrutiny, but the bowling is to blame too

by Sarah Waris 4 minute read

As scrutiny increases on the India batters for the team’s below-par showing in the T20 World Cup, the bowling should not be far from criticism either.

Column inches have been filled about the India batters and how their conservative approach while batting first has led to twin defeats in the ongoing tournament. However, it is not the only department that has let the side down. Across two matches, India have picked up just two wickets for 263 runs, to take the tally of wickets picked in the last two editions of the T20 World Cup (2016 and 2021) to 29. No team to have taken part in both this year’s Super 12 and the 2016 World T20 Super 10 have taken fewer wickets across the two tournaments.

That collective World Cup average over those two tournaments is 33.93 – the worst among any of the teams taking part in the Super 12 this year.

More worrying is how the overall bowling group has failed to raise their game in the last two tournaments T20 World Cup, and more obviously so in 2021. India is the only nation whose bowlers do not have a single three-four in the last two tournaments. Jasprit Bumrah, with 2-19, which he achieved against New Zealand in Dubai on Sunday has the best bowling figures by an India cricketer in the tournament since 2016.

Both India games in 2021 have seen Kohli’s side bat first, and this is where India’s troubles with the ball increase. While bowling second in four World Cup games since the beginning of the 2016 tournament India have picked up just 13 wickets at an average of 45.69 and a strike rate of 33.2, the worst among all teams. Their economy rate increases to 8.25 in the second innings, below only Australia when they have bowled second.

The game is often won or lost in the powerplay overs, and the India bowlers have combined to pick up just seven wickets in the first six overs of an innings in seven T20 World Cup games since 2016. In the two games thus far in 2021, only Jasprit Bumrah and Varun Chakravarthy have kept things tight upfront, giving away five an over, but the erring lines of Mohammad Shami (economy rate of 9.50 in the powerplay against Pakistan and New Zealand), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (economy rate of 9), and Ravindra Jadeja (economy rate of 14 in the powerplay) have meant that Virat Kohli has been left short-handed.

In the T20 World Cup this year, India have picked up just two scalps at an average of 130.50 and a strike rate of 97, which is a small indication of the woes of the overall bowling attack. Seven bowlers have been used thus far, with just two (Bumrah and Chakravarthy) conceding less than eight an over in the tournament.

While the India batting does remain an issue, ignoring the bowling weaknesses ahead of the next World Cup, set to take place next year, will not be the wisest decision. Yes, the attack has been pushed to toil with dew around, and the toss losses have not helped either, but overall, they have lacked zing, which needs rectification ahead of the Australia edition in 2022.

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